About High Blood Pressure

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force pushing against the walls of blood vessels as blood runs through them. High blood pressure happens when the force that is pushing against the blood vessel wall is great or excessive. High Blood Pressure is also called Hypertension (High-per-ten-shun). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jRy-YlZONA

Why Does It Matter?

If you have high blood pressure and do not treat it, you are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, which can affect your quality of life or end in premature death. High blood pressure not only makes your heart work harder to pump blood through the body but also hardens and damages the blood vessel walls.

This is a list of some major health problems that can occur as a result of high blood pressure:

  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Visual Impairment/Blindness
  • Chronic Kidney disease

This is a list of some life consequences of not getting high blood pressure under control:

  • Hospitalization
  • Days of Missed Work
  • Decreased Brain Function
  • High Medical Bills
  • Limited Independence

How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure has no symptoms and you will not feel when your blood pressure is elevated. People often refer to high blood pressure as the "Silent Killer" because most people do not know they have it. Regular doctor visits are needed to detect if your blood pressure is high.

Blood pressure measurements can be taken at a doctor's office or at home using a home blood pressure monitor. It is important that you visit a doctor at least once a year to get your blood pressure checked. click here for more information on home blood pressure monitoring

How Is Blood Pressure Measured?

Checking blood pressure is painless, easy, and quick. A machine measures your blood pressure by using a cuff around your arm.

When your blood pressure is measured, two (2) numbers are recorded:

The Top number is called the Systolic (Sis-tall-ick) pressure. It shows the maximum amount of pressure against the walls of your blood vessels, as the heart squeezes, pushing blood out into the body.


The Bottom Number is called the Diastolic (dye-a-stall-ick) pressure. It shows the amount of pressure against the walls of the blood vessel when the heart is relaxing, drawing blood towards the heart.

A physician or nurse may say that your blood pressure is one number "over" another number, for example the blood pressure measurement above would be said as "120 over 80"-this mean that the top number is 120 and the bottom is 80.

While the bottom number is important, more attention should be given to the top number after the age of 50 and into the later years in life.

What Do The Numbers Mean?

Throughout the day, your blood pressure rises and drops depending on the time of the day, stress, activity, mood, etc. While most healthy adults should aim to have measurement less than 120/80, blood pressure is not a one size fits all measurement. Learn about blood pressure readings and what you should do about your blood pressure.

Table for Adults:

What Can You Do About It?

The good news is that high blood pressure (hypertension) is a preventable disease and you have the power to take control of your health through simple steps:

  1. Know your numbers: See a doctor or nurse to check your blood pressure
  2. Eat to prevent and lower blood pressure
  3. Reduce sodium intake
  4. Make physical activity part of your day
  5. Keep a healthy weight
  6. Limit alcohol consumption
  7. Stop smoking

Sources:

National Heart Lung Blood Institute. What is Hypertension. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp

American Heart Association. Why blood pressure matters. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/WhyBloodPressureMatters/Why-Blood-Pressure-Matters_UCM_002051_Article.jsp#.VqldPfk4Fdg

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